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Response to a Letter about My Sermon on The New Heavens and Earth
Note: This letter was written to a preacher who seemed to be making some of the 70 A.D. arguments. It was in reply to his criticism of a lesson I did on the “New heavens and New earth.” I showed that the “new heavens and new earth” of Isaiah 65:17 refers to the time when the wolf and lamb shall feed together in God’s holy mountain (v. 25). That is fulfilled in the church (Rom. 15:8-12). The “new heavens and earth” of Peter (2 Pet. 3:13) and John (Rev. 21:1,2) refer to the new abiding place after the first heaven and earth are burned up, or pass away. That refers to heaven.
Dear brother ____:
(1) You pointed out that Isaiah’s “new heaven and new earth” follows a discussion of a judgment, just as does Peter and John’s. That is true, but is Isaiah’s prophecy of judgment against Israel referring to 70 A.D., or to 586 B.C.? It seems that Isaiah was predicting the desolation of Jerusalem by Babylon, not by the Romans (Is. 64:11; 39:6). The problem with making Isaiah’s prophecy refer to 70 A.D. is that the new heavens and earth of Is. 65:17-25 is described as the kingdom of peace being established; also discussed in Is. 11:6-11. The “Root of Jesse” did not begin His reign, nor was the holy mountain established and Gentiles admitted into that mountain after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy was with the ascension of Christ and the establishment of the kingdom in Acts 2, not with the destruction of Jerusalem 40 years later.
Your statement about Peter not using the words of Isaiah to refer to a different “coming” I do not believe with stand. Isaiah talked about the coming of the Lord in judgment through the Babylonians (Is. 39:6), but that does not mean that the coming Peter was talking about was the same “coming.” Again, if the “coming” that Peter is talking about is Christ’s coming in judgment against Jerusalem in 70 A.D., then all the things mentioned above that Isaiah prophesied did not come until after 70 A.D.
(2) It sounds like you are denying that the world was destroyed with water in 2 Pet. 3:6. The point Peter made is that just as the world (kosmos – orderly arrangement; not the planet itself) perished by water (literal or figurative?), the heavens and earth (ge – the planet earth) will “melt with fervent heat,…be burned up…be dissolved.” I do not believe that describes the events of 70 A.D., and if we can make that some figurative destruction of Judaism, we will have to make the water of the flood some kind of figurative judgment.
(3) I do not vouch for the accuracy of Scientists (who say the world will end) – except when they agree with God’s revelation. We both know that the world had a beginning, and I believe the same word that tells me about the destruction of the orderly arrangement (kosmos) with a flood also tells me that the earth (ge) is going to be destroyed with fire. Jesus said “heaven and earth shall pass away” (Mt. 24:35). Science agrees with this.
(4) I do not believe that premillennialists force me to interpret every passage in the N.T. to be fulfilled before 70 A.D. The destruction of Jerusalem is not the center of the Bible message. The Colossians had been translated into the kingdom before 70 A.D. (Col. 1:13). To make everything in Revelation refer to events before 70 A.D. forces some impossible conclusions: The Ephesians were to “eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God” (2:7, Those who eat the tree of life will live forever, Gen. 3:22); Smyrna believers who overcame would not “be hurt of the second death” before 70 A.D. (2:11); those in Pergamos would receive the white stone, if they overcame before 70 A.D. (2:18); those in Sardis who overcame would have their names confessed by Christ before the Father and the angels before 70 A.D. (3:5), and death and Hades would be “cast into the lake of fire” before 70 A.D. (Rev. 19:14,15). 70 A.D. was an important date, but those things did not happen in 70 A.D.!
You asked if Revelation was written in 96 A.D., to what judgment could he refer as coming shortly. Well, the book is primarily describing the persecuting power of the Roman Empire and the ultimate victory of Christ and those with Him over that persecuting power. The Roman Empire did not end in 70 A.D., but it fell apart in a relatively short time (but not before 70 A.D.), as Daniel prophesied (Dan. 2:40-43).
(5) The passage in, Rev. 22:6,7, may refer to the main things discussed in the book – the victory of Christ and the saints over the persecuting Roman Empire, but that does not mean that everything in the book had to be fulfilled before that date. The ultimate victory is heaven – not victory on earth, and those disciples needed to know that there was something better than this world awaiting the faithful – just as we need that assurance.
(6) I agree that the theme of Hebrews is the better system, but that does not prove that those who lived and died under the Law received that better system. In fact, we know that John the Baptist did not receive it (Mt. 11:11). Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews said that those who lived and died before Christ received a good testimony but “did not receive the promise” (Heb. 11:39).
I hope these things make sense. They are the best I can do right now. I simply do not believe that Mt. 24 is the center of the Bible message. The prophets generally looked to the events of Acts 2, when the New Covenant went into effect and the Kingdom of Christ was established, not to Titus burning the city of Jerusalem.
Thanks for your review. It made me study some more!
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